I hate making cake pops

There I said it.
I’m sure I’ll say it again.
In fact this is all very reminiscent of a clay Angry Birds post….

I guess that although I like to craft, and make, and do stuff, I just really hate uncontrolled messes.
And that’s exactly how these feel!… until the bitter end,  when they do end up looking kind of cute.  And then it sort of seemed worth it.
Because I actually don’t mind the cake baking, crumbling, rolling-balls steps.
That works out fine.

It’s when we get to this blasted part of the process that I want to throw everything away!….

…..and treat my kids to a plastic container of those neon-colored sugar cookies at the grocery store instead (you know, those ones that your kids ask you to buy every season, because they come in a different color for every holiday?  That might have been easier.)
Don’t mean to melt and complain on you.
Bear with me and we’ll trudge through the bowls of hardened chocolate together.
I mean, Why?
Why did I use so many bowls?!
Dishes. For Days.

Okay. Here’s the deal with the cake pops.
My mom got me the Bakerella Cake Pops book a few years ago.
It’s adorable.

Maybe you remember the Rudolph pops I made for Owen’s birthday a couple years ago?   With cake poop oozing out the back?
Owen loves looking through this book.  It’s in my pantry and every once in a while he pulls it out and just studies all the pictures and schemes in his mind how he might make them.  It really is the cutest thing.

And for the last month he’s been flipping through the Halloween section and asking if we can make some (btw, I just noticed on the Bakerella site that she has an entire Halloween book out!….better not show that to Owen.  Heh Heh)

So in the midst of October craziness, I told him that the week after I finished shooting videos we would make some.
And then he did the cutest thing my amateur cake-pop heart had ever seen.
He drew me a picture of the steps for making jack-o-lantern cake pops.  Ahh!

He even drew the pictures in a little mosaic, similar to her photos at the beginning of the book.  And he included a section for packaging and sending a pop off in the mailbox to a friend.  Oh Owen!
How could I say no to something like that?

So.  I baked two cakes.  I made the balls.
And when the kids came home from school we invited 5 friends over to help decorate the pops.

Bad idea.
Not because of the friends….but because of the delicate process (please share any tips you have for making it easier!)  The balls were falling apart in the chocolate, the chocolate wasn’t melty enough, tic tacs were bounding on the floor, kids were running wild.
So we quickly made some disaster pops to appease the masses—covered with more sprinkles than chocolate—and most of the kids were happy.  Owen still wanted to make his special jack-o-lantern pop and was dying to try out the edible pen.

So the next day we gave it another go (after I had dipped the pops in a more controlled setting)

And here’s what I concluded this time around:

• Work in small batches.
• Keep all of the balls in the fridge and move about 10 at a time to the freezer so they’re only in for a short period of time.
• Melt the candy in small batches, and after you dip a few balls, melt it again.
• Plastic bowls work better than ceramic bowls.
• Dip the balls all the way under and use a spoon to smooth chocolate around the ball.
• Don’t get hung-up on the word “smooth”.  Most of us will never be Bakerella.  And if you are, please share tips!
• Do all the dipping at night, so you can be as neurotic as possible and let the kids help you decorate the next day.

That’s what we did.
And I gotta say, I love how they turned out.

We used a mix of edible pen drawings, frosting gel tubes, googly eyes (to make crazy eye balls):
And we made ghosts, zombies, anything Halloween-y.

And in the end the kids were really proud of their creations.

Owen’s favorite pop was his jack-o-lantern, which looked pretty close to the ones in the book.

My worst pop was a clumpy ghost, too bottom heavy to stay on his stick.

Of course the other silver lining to the crazy mess, is that when you’re done you have all sorts of treats to wrap up and share with friends, stuff in the kids lunches, send off in the mailbox as Owen illustrated (actually, that’s probably a bad idea)

And if you have any leftovers, they make the perfect late night treat (they’re yummy even with out the chocolate coating and whole lot easier to make!)

Ahhh. Okay.
My rant is done.
Till we meet again next month, cute little book….

I’m off to sew costumes!

  1. haha your post kinda made my day here (evening in Belgium already)
    Glad to see I’m not the only one where bakings don’t quite end up looking like the pictures in the book 🙂

  2. The baker who made my wedding cupcakes told us she did an event with cake pops once and decided never again. She thinks cake pops are too time consuming and she is a professional baker, the fact that you even attempted cake pops as an amateur is impressive. They did turn out cute and the kids are happy!

  3. 4) Alicia

    I gave up on the cake idea and did marshmallow pops last weekend. I kept my chocolate over a double boiler which avoided the re-melting issue. What I didn’t do but wish I had was thinned the chocolate with a bit of veggie oil or shortening.

  4. 5) Stacey

    Ha! I have so been there and mine were only mummy pretzel rods. What is up with the chocolate melts?! That stuff is so hard to work with! Yours did turn out really cute and you’re a great mamma for even attempting with kids involved!

  5. Hahaha…we have that book too. It’s one of my boys’ (ages 5 and 7) favorite books EVER. They actually drive their grandparents crazy, making them read the recipes out loud instead of story books. THE RECIPES IN THEIR ENTIRETY, mind you–no oops-I-skipped-that-step allowed. I don’t fall for it. BUT I do have to suffer though the occasional cake pop making. My husband even gets in on it, buying cake pop kits of the kids’ favorite characters for me to make. (Thanks a lot, Sweetie.)

    The most important tip I can share is don’t use too much frosting. Really. You’ll be surprised at how little you need. It seems paradoxical, but too much frosting makes them SO much more crumbly and impossible to sugar (er…chocolate) coat. Also, if your bowl is heat proof you can stick it in the top of a double boiler over very low heat and avoid having to reheat it every few seconds.

    Yours turned out super cute, though!

    • Oh, also. If you’re making a shape, try to find a little cookie cutter in that shape, then just smoosh the cake-frosting stuff into the cookie cutter instead of trying to free hand it.

  6. 8) Jenny

    The last time I dipped Oreo balls I used the bowl of chocolate in a crock pot full of water method. It was amazing. The chocolate stayed silky smooth.

  7. 9) cara

    YUP, the smoothness!! Ah, my nemesis. But — not sure if this was intentional, but one of those cake pops up there looks like a *fabulous* mummy. This gives me hope 🙂

  8. My cake pops never look like Bakerella’s but I did pick up an awesome tip for them off her website one time. To make the chocolate thinner after you melt it, add a small amount of paramount crystals to the chocolate and stir until melted. The thinner texture ensures a smooth, shiny finish and less cake getting stuck in the chocolate. I use this technique any time I have to dip anything in chocolate now. It is so simple but amazing. You can get paramount crystals online from amazon and confectioneryhouse.com. One bag lasts a really long time! BTW, I think your Halloween pops are cute!

  9. I know the feeling! I see a cute picture of a cake pop and I think, that’s adorable! and it looks easy! I shall make them today! And it is not until I get everything out and get started that I remember, ugh, I hate making cake pops. I hate this melting chocolate. Argh, it’s always horrible.

    Well yours turned out cute and I adore, adore the drawing your child made, especially the mailbox!

  10. Thank you for the dose of reality that not everything will turn out perfect, we’re not failing as a mother when we screw up a project, and it’s okay to not like doing some of these amazing-looking crafts. I know it sounds dumb to need that reminder, but, well, I do need it sometimes. Creating things for our children is NOT A COMPETITION (unless, of course, you’re actually IN a real competition, but that’s something else entirely) and we do NOT have to make ALL THE THINGS. Anyway, thanks.

    • 13) Dana

      hahaha. So very true, all of what you said.
      And man, I don’t think I ever want to be in a competition. Too much pressure!
      Dont’ sweat the small stuff right….or the stuff that seems small and turns into big annoying projects 🙂

  11. Ah, cake pops. So much work. So great when someone else makes them!! 🙂 I ended up being *forced* to make them last minute this summer for my son’s birthday. He is generally not a cake eater but he tried them at a friend’s party and a few days before his party insisted he wanted them. Of course, our local bakery couldn’t make them on just a few days notice. Ugh. Somehow, they turned out really good. Pure beginner’s luck, I swear. A few things I remember – made the cake balls one night (btw, I agree with the tip above that you don’t need much frosting when making the balls) and then kept in the fridge until decorating the next night, first dipped the sticks into the melted chocolate (about an inch) and allowed to set in the fridge (this helps keep the balls on the top of the stick), melted the chocolate and then kept my double boiler on a heating pad (covered with a towel in case of spills) to keep the melted chocolate warm and smooth enough during the long dipping and decorating process. My dipping/twirling technique definitely improved over the course of the night. Also, I used kind of fancy chocolate that I ordered online. More expensive than the store stuff but I justified the expense (the expedited shipping was really the killer given my compressed timeframe; chocolate price wasn’t too crazy) since I wasn’t paying the bakery to make them. Even with the overnight shipping costs it was less than the bakery would have charged! My biggest regret – forgot to take photos until there was only one left. I had to pry it away from my 2 yo to get a photo, ha ha! I’ll be making them again next month for her birthday, so I’m hoping my luck holds. And I’m ordering the chocolate in advance!! 🙂 sorry for the long comment!! Happy Halloween!

  12. I love this post! I have never made cake pops myself. They look terribly frustrating just looking at them. You are such a good mom to humor your kids anyway. Owen’s drawing is so so precious! He is so artistic!

  13. Ah, that dear sad clumpy ghost in the first picture! I remember your Angry Birds post well and this one is just as good 😀
    I would totally have been suckered in by Owen’s picture, too. The things we do, hey? Reminds me of when my oldest son picked chocolate eclairs as a ‘beginner’ baking project….

  14. 17) Ashlie

    Wow you get mom of the year. Just the thought of having more than just my own kids make something like cake pops makes me … *shudder*. I have a hard time with the mess that play dough makes. I’m by no means a pro cake pop maker, honestly I don’t think they taste all that great, I’d rather eat/make Oreo truffles. I think they taste so much better and you can mold them similarly to cake pops. They require the same steps to make, crumble add cream cheese, shape, freeze, dip, except you don’t have to bake anything (Yay for less dishes!). And Oreos come in all kinds of yummy flavors. So I am not a pro cake popper but have made my fair share of Oreo truffles which involves chocolate dipping. My two cents. I have a small electric chocolate melter. We use it for fondue and it comes in handy when making treats that require dipping in melted chocolate. Under close supervision I feel comfortable enough letting my young kids be around and help, maybe unlike a double broiler. Mine is similar to this one, http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000H849V6/ref=mp_s_a_1_8?qid=1414666069&sr=8-8&pi=AC_SX110_SY165_QL70. I’ve had is for eight years and used it a ton. Second adding shortening to the melted chocolate makes a world of difference in the smoothness factor. Along those lines twisting the stick while tapping it on the edge of the bowl to get off the excess chocolate makes a world of difference when it comes to smoothness. My last thought, in my experience I’ve noticed the colored discs just don’t work as great as the plain chocolate almond bark squares. Which makes for a boring world of white and brown, so what do you. Better luck next time, if there is a next time!

  15. I’ve made cakepops as a treat for my daughters school class when she turned 4. I don’t think I’ll make them again. I hated to make the balls, they kept falling apart. Then the choclate hardened to fast and I needed more then was availible in one package (luckaly I baught 2). But if you want to make more cakepops maybe you should buy yourself a tin specially made for cakepops. I’ve seen them in shops overhere (The Netherlands) so I guess if we have them overhere you must have them at your place too… 😉 Good luck with the next bach of cakepops! 😉

  16. 19) Jules

    Don’t make cake balls! Buy unglazed cake doughnut(more dense than regular doughnuts) holes. Then half the work is done and you just have to dip them.

  17. 21) bdaiss

    I’ll give you the gold star for even TRYING. I refuse. I know they’re going to never turn out the way I want so I don’t try. Luckily my kids are more than happy with regular old cakes (those I can and will decorate!) or brownies or even the sugar cookies I pick up at the local bakery (a step above the grocery store).

  18. 22) Mia

    LOVED THIS POST! I immediately called my husband over who couldn’t agree more with everything written. He’s the official cake pop maker in the household but he’s taken a break from attempting them. The last time he made them was for a school bake sale where they were sold for 25 cents. All that work for 25 cents! I suppose though that if you took in all his efforts they might become too expensive to buy.

  19. yep. me too. however the one eyed sprinkle monster pop of yours or owens is too cute. i like that one. they look great. it’s the making. bleh.

  20. 24) Megan W.

    The first time I made cake pops I tried to do them as a surprise for my husband to look like little snitches for a Harry Potter birthday. I used too much frosting, too little shortening in the chocolate, and not enough time in the freezer, not to mention that it was July. They were dropping off of those sticks like nothing, and the “wings” didn’t stay on at all. But, DH loved eating them, so it was a win.

    The next time I made them was during a blizzard around Valentine’s Day, so we could put the pans out on the sun porch instead of the freezer, and because the house was so much cooler it was much easier. I used strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting (not too much frosting, just enough to make the cake moldable), with chocolate Almond Bark (maybe almond bark is easier than the candy melts? I’ve had luck dying the white stuff with gel dye though) and festive sprinkles and they were cute and delicious.

    The best part about your debacle is those proud faces on your kids. 🙂 Oh cake pops…what have they done to the world?

  21. 25) Dolores McCune

    Tips: Only need a big spoonful or two of icing per cake batch. Watch youtube video on how to make cake pops by the cooking with divas. Excellent tips. Also, sometimes i make oreo truffles instead. Google the recipe, super easy.

  22. Now I know why I never tried to make some. And I don’t think that I will ever try. 🙂

  23. Owen sounds like the sweetest little boy! I have that book too and my (one) attempt was pretty disastrous. My little girl (only 1 1/2) already loves flipping through the book and looking at pictures, so I see more cake pops in my future! yikes!

  24. Its a very long process.i have made lots of cake pops for my kids,school events,parties,weddings etc, i feel like i passed the frustration process. Very messy but everyone loves these balls for some unknown reason!
    I have to tips for u:
    1. Add a tbls of crisco to your full cup of melts snd microwave them hor 10-13 seconds. You will have a nice texture,not to heavy dry or not too watery.
    2.I usually do the cake and roll the balls the night before put them in the freezer until the next day just fo the fun step “decorate”.
    I think you will be more confident the next time.
    Big hugs

  25. and I’m so glad you said it! I do too! I have all the things to make them, but they never look as good as the book and I get so frustrated! I want to try again. but instead, I make a cake! Your’s are cute, of course!

  26. hahahah this post had me rolling on the floor, what does it say about me that I love the ranting posts the best??? hee.

  27. 31) Lisa McGriff

    This may be my favorite post ever! I love a woman who speaks the truth. I decorate cakes and cookies as a side “business/hobby” and I refuse to make cake pops. Hate those little devils. But I will pass this tiny bit of advice. I use a double boiler which keeps the chocolate warm but not to warm so that it flows smoothly, I also “ALWAYS” add a little bit of Gulf Parafin Wax to my chocolate. It just helps it to be smooth and it also helps it to have a little shine when it dries.

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